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New Puppy Info
CONGRATS! You have decided to add a puppy to your family. This has been an important decision - one that can truly change your life - for the better!
This page will cover many important topics about a new puppy, our recommendations, and FAQ's.
The excitement and joy of welcoming home a cuddly, cute new puppy is wonderful. It's much like a new baby - and the same care and devotion should be given to your new puppy especially the first 2 weeks he comes home. If you can, devote 3 full days to your puppy. Weekends work out great. This gives you both great bonding time and your new puppy can adjust to his surroundings.
You can ease your puppy's transition by being prepared and setting up a schedule. All family members should be in agreement on how he is trained and abide by the rules established. Even though you are excited - your puppy may not be, yet! She has left the only home she has ever known - her siblings, her mom, her human mom and she needs a period of time to adjust. It usually doesn't take long. It is up to you to see that your puppy has a healthy and happy transition. Do not overly play with your new puppy -- I know it's tempting, but she is still a baby and will need plenty of rest!!
Potty training must begin as soon as you arrive home! Dogs are naturally clean and do not wish to soil their "den" (sleeping and comfort area). We recommend housebreaking your puppy by using a crate. Some people may cringe at the thought of using one, but because dogs are den animals, they find comfort and security in their 'cave' crate environment. They will usually come to love their crate! It should not be used as an area of confinement or punishment, but of security. A puppy will seldom if ever, soil her sleeping area. It's important to establish a sleep, play, and potty routine and that your puppy is only put in her crate after being satisfied of all of those needs! Also, never leave your puppy in the crate only when you have to leave her, but when you are home, as well.
Only praise when she potties where you want her to but don't scold her (even playfully) when she has an accident. Remember - she's a baby and she will have accidents!
Consistency in training is key with having a well trained, obedient life long companion. A basic obedience class or puppy Kindergarten is highly recommended. There are many good books and DVD's as well. I liked Jan Fennell's The Dog Listener. It gives good instruction on how to lovingly establish yourself as the Leader of the Pack in the eyes of your new puppy. (Which will actually make her adore you more!!) Other suggestions for trainers to follow are Ian Dunbar's Academy, Cesar Millan's Dog Whisperer series, Zak George's YouTube videos/books and much more. Choose a system that you like and be consistent!
Be aware of what is toxic to your puppy! Please remember your pet doesn't know what he cannot eat - and eating things is part of his natural instinct to explore. Click here for a list of toxins to your pet. Some will surprise you!
Payments and Homecoming
1. What to Expect: After you have chosen your puppy, check the "PUPPIES" page to follow photo and video updates of your puppy's litter. Photo updates will occur every 2 weeks. We usually post 3-5 videos after 4 weeks of age. You are welcome to visit your puppy after their first vaccinations.
2. Preparing at Home: Please check out my Shopping List, First Weeks Home, Hazardous material lists, and training books. Puppy-proof your home. Check into local puppy classes. Choose your Veterinarian and make your puppy's first appointment within the first 72 hours of coming home.
2. Payments: We accept personal or Cashier's check. There is a 3% fee for payments made through PayPal. Remaining balances are due at 6 weeks of age.
3. Pick Up Day: We love our families to come to pick up puppies at our farm. Iowa sales tax is required for puppies picked up in the state of Iowa. We suggest bringing a travel crate, leash, collar (XS), water dish, extra toy and blanket for holding on your lap. We will have a small handmade blanket with the scent of siblings and mom and puppy food for you.
4. Homecoming by Airline: We hire our own personal pet nannies to escort your puppy in-cabin to the major airport nearest you. Contact us directly for pricing estimates. You are also welcome to hire a pet nanny of your choice; combined with option 5.
5. Meeting at the Airport or other locations: You can choose to meet us at DSM (Des Moines) or MSP (Minneapolis) and take your puppy home with you for a meet-up/trip fee. We provide the puppy's airline-approved soft sided carrier when flying. It will be up to you to make your own flight reservation for yourself and the puppy. Delta will not allow in-cabin puppies until 10 weeks old and United until 16 weeks. Check each airline's policies as they constantly change. We don't make Sunday appointments.
Puppy Shopping List
1. Puppy food - high quality (preferably AAFCO approved) food such as NutriSource for small breed puppies - link is below under "First Weeks Home"
2. Bowls - stainless steel & shallow for food/water
3. Healthy Treats
4. Bristle brush, wide tooth comb, and grooming scissors
5. Gentle puppy-specific shampoo for occasional baths - too much bathing and/or with harsh shampoos can cause puppy's sensitive skin to flake
6. Soft, washable bed
7. I.D. tag - with puppy's name, your name, phone number and "I'm microchipped."
8. Leash and XS collar (xs for puppy is 8-12" neck size) to start out. A puppy Harness is also an excellent option
9. Wet wipes, paper towels, deodorizing spray for accidents
10. Puppy potty pads
11. Crate - for potty training and safe-space - with just enough space to lie down, stand up and turn around. You do not want this to be too big or they will choose one side as their "den" and the other side as the "soil" area. (which defeats the whole purpose of 'crate training') I suggest a 24" crate with a divider so when they reach adulthood the divider can be removed and still give them ample den space after they've grown out of one side. Click here for link.
12. Play-pen/Exercise pen - This is a great place to put your puppy for a "safe-for-play space" when you aren't able to watch him closely (i.e cooking dinner) & you're sure he has already pottied.
Click here for link.
13. Toys - crate toys (such as Kong) to stuff with puppy's food and healthy treats to encourage chewing on toys - and not on your couch pillow! Try varieties of textures and sizes to satisfy those teething days. Click here for the link to the favorite toy at Willow Ridge!
14. Car Booster Seat - safely tote your pup along wherever you go! Click here for link
15. HAVE FUN shopping for your new puppy!!
The First Weeks Home
Love - Affection - Adore:
Your new puppy will respond to you best when you shower him with your love! Kisses, snuggles, and talks are necessary for your new puppy's happiness - and yes, obedience. A puppy who is loved will desire to please you. Affection does not take the place of obedience training - it's an important part of it.
The 2 most important things you can do for your puppy are 1) Love/Affection 2) Consistency
These will both assist your puppy's desire to please you and return the love & affection to you.
Feeding Your New Puppy:
Our new puppies are not restricted on their puppy food intake before they come home. They are eating with their litter mates and we want to be sure each puppy gets what they need. It's a good idea to put your puppy on a feeding schedule when he comes home to assist with establishing an expected potty routine.
The first week I suggest feeding your puppy 3-4 times a day... and keeping within a 12-hour window. Offer water 2-3 hours before bedtime.
Start with a 1/2 cup of food and let the puppy eat until they start to play and become distracted. Then always take uneaten food away. Keep this a very low key event; just remove quietly and wait until the next feeding to offer more. Your puppy will learn to respect you and mealtime both. When they've adjusted to their new schedule -expect them to eat between 1 and 3/4 cups total per day.
We feed our puppies Nutri Source Chicken and Rice for small/medium breed puppies. Purina ProPlan Chicken and Rice for small breed puppies is another recommended food. Be sure whatever you choose is nutrient-dense for your growing puppy. Compare your new food to the Nutrient Analysis we are feeding your puppy: https://nutrisourcepetfoods.com/dog-food/small-and-medium-breed-puppy/2
On the first days home, we recommend following the "One Hour" Rule until you understand your puppy's signs/body schedule. Take your puppy every hour to the designated potty area. Praise him when goes!! Once you recognize your puppy's potty signs - follow the "Age Rule" for when the puppy needs to potty. Example: 2 months old = 2 hour bladder control | 3 months old = 3 hour bladder control and so on. Nighttime is longer.
Remember that every play session should be fairly short - and always followed by a potty time. Playing will stimulate the need to eliminate. It could be 5-15 minutes into a play session when your puppy needs a potty break again.
Guideline: (be flexible with this)
6 a.m. wake up – potty
Potty 5-20 min after eating, then play
Nap/rest in the crate
Potty, then play
Potty 5-20 minutes after eating
Playtime then potty
Nap/rest in the crate
Potty 5-20 minutes after done eating
Playtime and potty before bed
Take your puppy for a night-time potty break 3-4 hours after going to sleep.
Remember your puppy is a baby and over-playing with your puppy can cause them to exhaust themselves and they may be too tired to eat enough or delay Potty Training progress. Please respect your puppy's nap time - it's very important for them! :)
We start touching and handling your puppy from birth. We still respect their time with their mama, but it's also very good for your puppy to experience human interaction and stimulation! Your puppy will be touched and handled by adults and from children ages toddler to teenager! After the puppy is weaned, we introduce them to a crate by placing one in their playpen they can choose to sleep in.
It's very important that socialization is continued in earnest when your puppy comes home! Be careful, as she isn't fully vaccinated yet, but introduce to as many new experiences/people as possible. This will help make your puppy a well-rounded, accepting, joyful pup who isn't easily startled or upset. The older your puppy gets, the harder these experiences are for them to learn. Seriously consider enrolling in a puppy class for socialization and/or training.
New Puppy Meeting Resident Pet:
All introductions should be supervised and positive for both pets. No scolding or coaxing, just a lot of praise and treats. If the Resident pet is much larger, we suggest playpens, if necessary, until they are acclimated to one another.
Biting and Teething:
Shopping for toys is fun - we suggest a variety of tastes, texture, noise, and shapes. But puppies only need a few toys at a time. Change them out to keep them excited about chewing on toys - not your shoes/furniture. It's a good idea to keep a few favorites to stay entertained in their crate.
"Acquired Bite Inhibition (ABI)" is when your puppy has learned to keep his bite strength at a moderate level and not actually hurt you. Playing with litter mates begins this training. Biting is something natural, and you want them to be able to use gentle "Soft Mouth" biting on your hand. Cavaliers/Cavapoos are not aggressive in nature, but if not taught appropriately, even playful, hard biting is not something you want to get started. Learn more here from Ian Dunbar. More tips on nipping/biting behaviors from Zak George's perspective here. Simpawtico has a great video as well.
Always be clear in the messages you send to your puppy. It's fine to use full sentences with your puppy, but always use the same phrase so you don't send confusing messages.